In keeping with the fun I had writing my post on action cliches, Brakes Only Fail On Hills, I decided to share my list of things that try to keep in mind when writing my own villains...
- Don't give him a deformity, scar, or creepy behavior.
How do we know that Dr. Evil is evil before he even speaks? He is bald, has a scar, does that weird pinkie thing, and dresses like a futuristic mortician.
Misdirection by appearance and behavior is a great device when writing suspense, but make sure it is actually pointing to someone who is NOT the villain.
- Minions are a dead giveaway.
Whether its a creepy friend that does their bidding or a doormat for an assistant, keep the talk of diabolical plans while excitedly rubbing their hands together to a minimum.
Particular to suspense...you can't unveil or hint too heavily at the villain or it will spoil the surprise and lose the reader.
- They are caught in a blatant lie.
|Photo by Tiago Fernandes.|
The heroine sees the villain arguing with a man and later when the man is revealed to be a bad guy, the villain denies it.
This is a great way to add conflict between the OTHER main characters. Misunderstanding clouds the issue and often throws suspicion where it can do some good to further the story.
- Make him gain advantage too soon in the story.
The problem with letting your villain gain the advantage too quickly is that its the equivalent of putting a blinking red arrow over his head. Keep the story off balance and the reader wondering.
- Your hero is too important to lose.
|Really just wanted a reason to post a pic of Jake.|
This, I think, is one of the quickest ways to ruin the story. If one of your characters is a wayward prince, the President, the only survivor of his species....the odds are whoever is picking on him is gonna lose and is therefore...the villain.
What are some instances in a mystery, be it book or movie that have given away the villain too soon? How might we as writers keep the reader guessing?
Until next time...Go Write?